Author RITA CLAY ESTRADA is RWAâ€™s first president and the co-founder of OCC whose contributions to the romance genre led the national organization to name its highest honor â€“ the RITA Award â€“ in her honor.
Join us at our 25th Anniversary Party on Oct. 14 for a chance to thank this romance legend.
For the complete interview with Rita, look no further than the October issue of Orange Blossom.
According to Debbie Macomberâ€™s and Paula Eykelhofâ€™s article, Romancing The Store, â€œThe first paranormal romance read by many contemporary readers was Rita Clay Estrada’s The Ivory Key, a Harlequin Temptation published in the early 1980s. The hero was a time-traveling ghost. Any other publisher would have laughed at the concept. But no one’s laughing anymore. Stories about vampires, ghosts, werewolvesâ€”they’re all selling.â€
And a reader review states, â€œThis book has intrigued me since I first read it over 10 years ago. She writes with such reality it made the book so believable. I wore out the copy of this book many years ago but continue to read it again and again. It is worth the search to find a copy. I am trying to find out if she wrote a sequel.â€
Will there be a sequel to The Ivory Key?
A â€“ No. I thought of it at one time, but it would never be as powerful as the first, so why bother? I donâ€™t want to compete with myself, I want to do something new and different and make it the best I can.
Q â€“ What inspired it?
A â€“ Originally, the Ghost and Mrs. Muir.
When I first decided to write out of the closet, I went to work in a B. Dalton Bookstore. I was manager and worked with two awesome women: Nicole Ball and Anita Solomon. Both are still in the business and Nicole is now in corporate Headquarters. Late at night I would start talking, attempting to work out that plot. Anita would throw in a thought and it spurred me on. However, it was the first story I thought of before I sold my first book. It didnâ€™t come out until much later in my career â€“ nobody wanted to touch it.
Q â€“ What is it that you love about this story?
A â€“ The endless possibility of those parallel worlds Einstein believed existed.
Q â€“ What else can you tell us about it or the writing of it?
A â€“ By the time I started writing it for real, I was in the middle of ending a 29 year marriage and it was not a pleasant time. I think I buried myself in the writing.
Q â€“ What are you working on now? Can you tell us about your next project?
A â€“ I just finished a story that has rattled around in my brain for a while until I finally put it on paper. The working title is Sweet Charity, the story of a spoiled woman who lost her way into womanhood and has to get back on path again.
Q â€“ Which of your heroes is your favorite? Why?
A â€“ Armand in Ivory Key was so wonderfully chauvinistic. Ben in Too Wicked to Love was so badly damaged by his parents. Both were redeemable by the love of a good woman. What more could they want?
Q â€“ Which of your heroines is your favorite? Why
A â€“ Dianne in Wise Folly or Catherine in A Womanâ€™s Choice. Both had hang-ups and had to change or dry up.
Dana Diamond is the OCC/RWA Secretary, a columnist for OCC’s award-winning newsletter Orange Blossom, a contributor to A Slice of Orange, and hard at work on her next book.